In the last couple of years Telvin Smith, Allen Hurns and most recently Keelan Cole have gone from being a late round draft pick or undrafted free agent to contributing immediately with the Jaguars. Leon Jacobs was selected in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft and looks to be the next name on that list.
A couple of weeks into the start of training camp Jacobs is currently listed as the Jaguars starting strong-side linebacker.
“You can’t get content,” said Jacobs. “You have to stay hungry. I do that by coming in everyday hungry and fight like I’m not in that No. 1 spot.”
In the Jaguars dense the SAM linebacker is on the field anywhere from 30-40 percent of the snaps on defense. Prior to the start of the off-season program it was thought that second-year linebacker Blair Brown would fill this role.
However it’s clear that Jacobs made an early impression on the Jaguars coaching staff and the former Wisconsin Badger is just happy to be given the opportunity to compete for the job.
“You just keep it in the back of your mind that Caldwell [Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell] and the coaching staff they obviously allow players whether it’s late round picks or undrafted guys to come in here and get a chance,” said Jacobs. “That’s all you can ask for.”
The Jaguars defensive starters only played a couple of series in the preseason opener against the Saints. After reviewing the film head coach Doug Marrone was pleased with what he saw out of Jacobs.
“I liked it,” said Marrone of Jacobs who had two tackles against New Orleans. “I think when you look at the tape, you look at it and you say … Sometimes in the preseason, you are mixing and matching things. You may look at a player and go, ‘I do not know if he really belongs out there.’ He [Jacobs] looked like he belonged. I think that this first experience for him was good. I think the one thing about young players or rookie players that you look at, is you see these jumps in the preseason, and I think the practices against Minnesota will be another test.”
Missed assignments and mental errors are two things that often prevent rookies from making an instant impact in the NFL. But according to Myles Jack that hasn’t been an issue for Jacobs.
“No problem whatsoever because he’s out there communicating like me and Telvin [Smith Sr.] and the cool thing is he’s kind of feeding off me and Telvin, so the more he hears us talking, the more he’s talking and saying the right things,” said Jack. “It’s a breath of fresh air, you know what I mean? Instead of being like, ‘Oh, OK, I’ve got a rookie. I’ve got to kind of worry about him, tell him what to do, make sure he knows what to do.’ Leon is spot on. I don’t have to worry about him.”